As a freshman at North Carolina State, hometown kid C.J. Leslie was of immediate impact, finishing second on the team in scoring and first in rebounding. Born minutes away from the NC State campus in Holly Springs, his path after Raleigh has seen many different stops. His current assignment is in Frisco with the Texas Legends.
“Thing are going pretty well,” Leslie has played in six games so far with Texas after being acquired in a trade with Raptors 905 in the offseason. “I’m just getting off an injury and trying to get healthy.”
Leslie led the Wolfpack in scoring in his sophomore and junior seasons, also guiding the program to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in those years, the first time they had done so since 2005-2006.
After college, the 27-year old played in the NBA Summer League with the New York Knicks, then had stints in the G League with the Erie Bayhawks and Idaho Stampede.
His journey then went international, hitting spots like a rock and roll tour. He played professionally in Korea, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon and Turkey.
“I think you have to enjoy your time where you’re at. Definitely get to know the place, learn the history about where you are and make sure you’re making the best of all your situations and all your surroundings. There’s fun stuff to do so you just gotta make sure you’re doing that type of stuff.”
Like many elite basketball prospects, he’s gone global in an effort to reach the ultimate goal: the NBA. Though he’s definitely experienced overseas, there’s no substitute for the little things, like reading street signs, he says.
“Coming off an injury, I haven’t been able to play exactly how I want to play and what I’m familiar with and the way I’m accustomed to playing. I just think it’s very important for me to just let my lows be medium and let my highs be medium. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Right now that’s my mindset.”
He returned to the G League in 2016 with the Toronto Raptors affiliate and is just beginning his tenure with the Legends.
Self-described as a player “who can do a little bit of everything,” Leslie is a big-time athlete, very versatile and mobile for his 6 foot 9 frame.
“I can play on the perimeter, play inside and guard multiple positions.”
A post player who can also excel playing against guards, Leslie dismisses the notion that he can’t be both an outside threat as well as a force down low.
“I think my talent speaks for itself. I did it against whoever I was up against. Undersized, oversized…if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If I can prove to be efficient and do my thing, that speaks for itself. I don’t think I’m undersized.”
There’s no shortage of confidence in Leslie’s game, and he is once again on the verge of reaching the dream of the NBA.